A 22-year-old veterinary nurse who was sacked after a stroke left her blind has won £20,352 in compensation.
Hayley Tudor’s case was one of the first direct discrimination cases under Part Two of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to reach a tribunal hearing. The case was supported by the Disability Rights Commission, Action for Blind People and Trafford Law Centre.
Part Two of the DDA requires employers to make reasonable adjustments. Therefore, it is direct discrimination to dismiss someone because of their disability if it is possible to make reasonable adjustments to enable them to do their job.
Hayley was dismissed from her job as an animal nursing assistant by Spen Corner Veterinary Surgery after she had a stroke in May 2005. She lost her sight in June of that year as a result of her stroke.
In July, Hayley phoned her employers to inform them she was out of hospital and could resume work only to be told she had already been sacked.
The veterinary surgery had made an assumption without seeking any advice, that there was no point in even trying to continue to employ Hayley after her stroke. However, considering her job mainly consisted of receptionist duties, it would have been easy to make some reasonable adjustments for her.
Bert Massie, chairman of the Disability Rights Commission, welcomed the legal judgment: “This was a very clear case of direct discrimination because Hayley’s employer made assumptions about her ability to carry out the job after she became disabled.
“Her employer also did not consider any reasonable adjustments to enable her to remain in employment. It is one of the first cases where the tribunal has had to consider direct discrimination and as such sets a standard for ensuring disabled people have equal rights in employment.”
Hayley Tudor said: “My employer never gave me the chance to prove I was still capable of doing the job I had been doing very successfully for almost a year before my stroke.
“They could have made adjustments for me like slightly modifying some of the equipment, allowing me to work flexibly and making a few adjustments to the premises yet none of this was offered. I’m just pleased that now justice has been done and that the decision in this case could be used to help other disabled people in my position.”
Action for Blind People Chief Executive Stephen Remington added: “I hope this raises awareness amongst employers that they can make reasonable adjustments to enable visually impaired people to work and there is support out there to help them achieve this.”